Hawaiian born and bred Hoala Greevy talks story with Meghan Alonso on how how he celebrated startup growth by giving then got a gift from one of Hawaii’s angel investors. Also. listen to his entrepreneurial journey and how he stumbled into healthcare…. all the way from designing a game app!
Recorder: Are you ready to master the waves of medical device product development? Well wax up your surfboard because you are listening to inspired by Imua. Here is your medical device product development expert that Hawaiian hearted hostess who will help you hang ten. Meghan Alonso.
Meghan: E komo mai and aloha! You’re listening to inspired by Imua, where we help you master the waves of medical product development. Each week we interview guest that educate, guide and inspire to give you and your product the skills you need to hang ten. If this is your first time listening, Imua is spelled I-M-U-A and it’s a Hawaiian word. It means to advance forward with passion despite rough waves. There are plenty of those in the medical device development but keep listening because we’ve got you covered.
Meghan: So I wanted to give you a quick update on my virtual pre accelerator program called invention idea to profitable product and we’re wrapping up our beta and I’m launching it at February 1st for new class so if you’re interested so you can check it out so go to imua-services.com/iipp or you can just text the word INVENTION to 44222 this program is great for anyone that’s inventor, entrepreneur or scientist that has idea or technology that need some help moving to early stage and you just want to get this idea of the ground so check it out I’d love to have you in the program and we’ll get on the show. So I have an extra special guest for you today we met at the JP Morgan conference one the cocktail parties there and we quickly found out that we both share a love of Hawaii so he’s actually from Hawaii and he has a pretty cool story and I want to get to his entrepreneur journey cause I know when we’re out there for the company it is not easy to do. There’s a lot of ups and down excitement – and you learn what that is without further due let me introduce Hoala Greevy. Hoala are you ready to hangten?
Hoala: Hey how’s it Meghan? Yep for sure, thanks for having me.
Meghan: You’re welcome. I gave you a little intro there so fill in the gaps for me and let us know a little bit more about you.
Hoala: Sure so I’m the founder CEO of Paubox Incorporated and we built ourselves to send and receive – for myself I’ve been doing email for a long time since 1999. We started Paubox in Honolulu due to costumer asking us to build something that was made from Hawaii Foundation from there started talking to other costumer and prospects in the regulated sectors specifically health care and discovered as a big unfulfilled need for easy to use encrypted email that to complain and we think it was a considerably big idea and we found we want to take it seriously in Hawaii dealing with men prospects and costumers so we moved to San Francisco 2 years ago and I think it’s been a very good business decision for us. We keep our Hawaii rules but we’re very thankful for being in SF to really grow the business it’s for potential.
Meghan: So speaking of Hawaii, tell the audience what the Pau means?
Hoala: It means dawn or finish so that’s just one of my favourite words.
Meghan: If ever you’re in San Francisco I’m moving to DC in a few weeks so if you’re there then give us a shout out so we can celebrate Pauhana together which actually means the day is dawn or the day is finished and traditionally it means happy hour we do that if you’re down.
Hoala: Yeah for sure we do those all the time.
Meghan: So you mentioned that you just gonna stumble upon this it was a request of the make a wish foundation so what were you doing that they thought hey they have the capabilities to do this?
Hoala: They were costumer of mine so we have pre existing relationship. I started Hawaii first – filter company a long time ago in 2002 it’s called Pauspam and so learns some good things about doing that at the time we were doing things that don’t have a name for it yet like software of service that was the build model that made the most sense to me. We couldn’t compete shipping a appliances to our costumer cause we are in Hawaii so we have all our costumers email to us first and launches service in the data server and now it’s called cloud computing so we are early to that as well just in the wrong market a very small market. I see some similarities in Paubox now so I think I’m doing things that are ahead of the curve but not too far ahead and probably some things that haven’t names yet so I’m very encouraged of what we’re doing in paubox the costumer adoption and the success of being provider costumer and yeah make a wish is still a costumer very happy to be a affiliated with them for sure.
Meghan: Yea that’s great. That’s a big client that has a lot of weight and if you can threw that around like hey they’re using this – or they’re using this it’s time for you to get onboard that just give you credibility.
Hoala: Yeah for sure we definitely want to talk to our costumer and costumer’s success with — I think that is the goal of our business.
Meghan: So I know building your company isn’t been easy and you mentioned that you made the decision to move from Hawaii to San Francisco just because some of the challenges connecting with the investors tell me what you were doing you and I chatted before tell the audience what you were doing before that didn’t quite work out maybe just some insight in hardtimes being an entrepreneur why you chose to stick with it and move forward rather than get what people called it like normal job?
Hoala: About 3 or 4 years ago I saw this I mean pretty obvious there’s this incredible shift in gaming industry especially towards – and all that stuff so I send this incredible shift and opportunity so I launched the company to be a part of it and we launched in that – in IOS apps store it’s just this silly game to get people to do stuff and then share it within app and of course online in social channels and we have – of course and then kinda fizzle the way and I don’t know I guess I feel like am I the best person in the world is gaming and – the thing I’m best suited to do I guess I learned the hard way no that is not my strong suite but email – well that’s a different story so I try to jump on my roots started taking costumer of to lunch again just trying to get – going on so this health care encrypted email thing popped up so I learned more about health care and hit the complaints and this entire industry is 10 or 15 years behind the regulations are pretty hard to follow if you are not paying attention a fines are pretty significant if you are not following the rules – an opportunity and we’re pretty well ingrained in that space if you google – email the page will be rank 1 that was hard to get but we’re very happy about that placement and we have to say there and If you want to talk about health care and email I doubt that health care is the last American business segment that is not using email in the workplace you go into any room whether it’s 5 or 100 or thousand people and you ask them when is the last time you –your email due I guarantee you 2 percent of that room raise their hand so we see this as a very large market that could definitely help and that’s needed. People want to communicate with their doctor and what we found the doctors actually really want to communicate with other doctor and then we found out that dealing providers has the same problems and all these other – but still need to – compliant businesses have the same needs so it’s a rather large and promising market for us so we’re happy to see these things come along.
Meghan: I remember when we first met and say yeah so annoying sometimes the doctors don’t want to communicate with you so they’ll send you message through this complicated portal or you’ll have to sign in and do this and so much time.
Hoala: We move all that friction the doctors don’t want doing it the sender doesn’t want doing it either the recipient if you couple that with the experience on mobile it’s absolutely terrible and – email is read of mobile that’s a big un talk about weak spot and the – for encrypted email we’re stuck in the age where people use outlook well yeah that was 2006 or 7 now fast forward again half of all email read and composed on the smart phone so we really take that a hard when we build – so we got to get rid of the portal the download the outlook plug ins is whole been remove to totally – this we – encryption what our major differentiate is paubox is gonna give you a benefit in this case encrypted complaint email and we’re not gonna ask you a change of behaviour so similar way to think about it is when you check your account balance online and you type —.com. Your browser will automatically convert that connection to the encrypted https connection. You got that encrypted connection in your browser and you don’t have to change your behaviour and that was actually done in email. Whether you ask people to change their behaviour and I can’t do it.
Meghan: It does especially in medical it’s always a barrier and that’s one of things for those of you listening that have a disruptive product like an email something that is not out there. One of the biggest challenges is what is your in user doing right now? How are you gonna educate them that needs to change big time because they have their habits and work is kinda set and it’s a disruption. It’s a good disruptive product but it’s a disruption to them because you will modify what you’re doing so if you can take that and make it all converge on the back so that you’re not modifying their behaviour that’s what the goal is.
Hoala: I think you’re right I’ve been doing email for a long time. I watched a lot people use email like people don’t want to change their behaviour. These target market we’re dealing with these doctors have been in school I mean they’re very smart at what they do but not necessarily savvy on IT computers all these people can’t barely compose a regular email so they really all solution cause all we’re asking them to do is use the same behaviour and they got that desired result.
Meghan: In time doctors today is so burdened with a cave gotta fit 30 patients in your schedule and if they mess around with messages and logging in into portal and doing all these stuff after they’re seeing patients all day they’re just not wanna do it but it’s a quick email that can take 10 secs to 2 mins then that’s great. So back when you’re working in the gaming industry and you realize you said something that jumped out to me that you decided that be to see wasn’t your – so tell me some hard things that you have to deal with. Was there certain instance that happened?
Hoala: To me – is very black and white somebody needs something if we can build it we figure out a fair price. Be to see since our game is free of course you got 500 people telling you to build stuff but you can’t really qualify them cause you’re not monetizing the product so whose right because there is no money changing. It’s very hard to prioritize you got your friends telling you something your family I mean everybody is an expert now. That was pretty hard to separate the noise to the signal be 2 be tough in general and gaming there is some very smart people in gaming I mean that whole thing I got the outmost of respect of the gaming industry if you look into a lot of company. Zuckerberg started first at gaming – started in game – made a game when he was a kid. A lot of successful people started from gaming and then when I’m to do other things. – hope you become a member I look someday.
Meghan: It’s not just about hey let’s put this game together now everything is so psychological and I’ve seen their reports especially the candy crush they make it addictive on purpose they psychologically design it that way and it’s crazy.
Hoala: It’s kinda like fishing actually you put your hook in the water you don’t know what’s gonna bite and you don’t know when it will bite and it’s the same thing when you put the slot machine lever it’s the same way successful – design and the human brain is naturally addicted to things that produce variable reward and release – it’s all kind of science stupid games that you can’t forget why you play over and over again they’re design to addict you that’s the science of successful games.
Meghan: If you have to give 1 piece of advice to someone just starting a company now or their few steps behind you what you tell them?
Hoala: Thanks for asking me for my personal experience I’m not Steve Jobs I’m gonna be inventing something out of nowhere but I certainly like and know how to talk to costumers and if costumers of prospects are asking for the same thing or something close to the same thing that sounds like a trend and you probably wanna do something about that cause if you don’t someone else will and so we pride ourselves in pile blocks using costumer feedback as a mechanism of what to build and when to build it and so just think that it’s just a lot more straight forward and easier to build a company around trying to guess where the mark is gone that’s very difficult and almost impossible.
Meghan: That’s really great advice I’m always saying this it’s good to have other people reinforce it that market research and always being in touch in what your costumers want is the most important thing. I’ve seen people that get we’re all guilty we have this great idea and excited about it and we just want to do all we can. Sometimes it’s a fear of going out and talking out in people what if I don’t make it. Other times it’s just you’re so excited you don’t wanna mess with it. I’ve seen people develop products all the way to getting it ready for manufacturing like literally I can take this mold that I have and I can take it molder and making the parts for me I’ve already spent a hundred thousand if not millions developing this product only to find out hey you shouldn’t didn’t done that.
Hoala: You know Paubox we design the initial product and we’ve got them into early doctor hands and then using their feedback we’re able to make it better in ways we hadn’t thought about and due to software built a change we made affects the ecosystem so all of the costumers benefit in the costumers feedback request that the doctors are asking for so I thought we created something new and very interesting by being able to react to costumers needs ones feedback initial product and when they said it made total sense. This work flow let’s do this so now that you say that’s how you using it for sure we can do that for you and then sometimes we get request – and we check around for other costumers you know that this make sense so we kinda let some of those weird ones – the ones that have over lap – to other costumers we definitely build that end for sure
Meghan: Back to the trends thing you know if you’re seeing the same problem show up again and again and that’s when you.
Hoala: Yeah I was reading – behind the cloud last year and in one of his chapters he discuss that in the early days of sales they keep getting the same type of request and when they finally put it in it just took off so I thought that was kinda need that we’re doing similar things how to approach in sales force.
Meghan: So what’s one of your hardest entrepreneurial experiences like if you had an experience with building your team or raising funding what’s been the hardest and then how you overcome with it.
Hoala: So right now of Paubox finding recruiting talent is a challenge I point what is harder cause the talent really doesn’t exist to the skill you needed to be at so there is lot of talent here in the – competing all the biggest names in the business that’s an ongoing thing for us and we’re trying to get better at expressing our value proposition of people we’d like to hire so that’s an ongoing thing I mean it just baited of last night he turned us down so we’re back at the drawing board for the spot we have so yea for Paubox that’s certainly a thing but I’m very happy of the team we have now very proud of our team now let’s see funds raising was tough last year I’ve been skimming headlines supposed to be easier this year but so those are the things Paubox right know anyway but we’re lucky we have revenue we are in the block last year that’s only give some stability and control over our destiny like to say so we’re able to reach that fairly quickly basing do or die I mean it’s like we have so little in funds up until last summer we didn’t get in the block and the lights go out.
Meghan: When you start becoming profitable?
Hoala: Last year. We have habbits we have low over head some of our pricing helps out that with that too for software.
Meghan: I don’t know if your team wants to hear this but I’m gonna throw it out there I’ve been in the phoenix several times over the past year and I have some business not partners but just high end consultants that really help me and my business and phoenix doesn’t have software intact so it’s a lot expensive than San Francisco and you do have a talent base there like I said maybe you don’t want your team to hear this.
Hoala: No all good I’ve heard some of things of other cities just for right now the way we work. I think we move faster but there are all kinds of opinions I don’t know which one’s right. I just know for Paubox that’s the way we work the best.
Meghan: So speaking of working the best or the way you like work you were sharing with me some stories of how you’ve given back to the community and how you really like to be a purpose driven company and just kinda share the wealth so you were showing me 2 different events that you did to San Francisco so talk to us about that and explain you know for – earlier with – and I’m not talking about email spam so explain what that is.
Hoala: Our first year in San Francisco we went from 6 costumers in January and 100 costumer in December and we thought we should do something cause it doesn’t have to be big but something to celebrate and so we have the office – of San Francisco right on the pretty big bart so we went there one morning and we have 100 spam of the bart stop quite a few homeless people there. We also give a 100 pairs of socks cause it’s Christmas and it’s pretty handy if you live in the streets having nice pair of socks it’s raise been – Japanese seaweed it’s a really good snack. We made those hundred the day before we have no system to make I mean like 10 before but a hundred – took us 8 hours but we did it and then next year which is last year on the summer we got accepted to the 500 – which is a big event for us. One of the premier start up accelerator this time we bought 500 spam and we gave them away – and now is a cool event the Governor of Hawaii gave us a shout out of Twitter. We made the news back home and actually live to the investor check like a woman back home she saw from the news. She said man I don’t wanna miss this train can I write you guys a check? So that was a nice silver lining to the community service then and then lastly last Christmas we gave away 500 – poles at the same bart stop in the – and that was well received a lot of people don’t have – before and I just thought hey we can do something we’re not so big we can have a dedicated community service person doing stuff all year round but we can certainly do something during Christmas you know we just want to show our appreciation for being here in San Francisco cause we feel like this is place. We’re here to make it happen I just think the service leaders in Hawaii that really set things down pool every single one of them has given back or community service as one of their pillars of doing business in Hawaii so I just felt like we should do that regardless of where we are.
Meghan: That’s awesome. I challenge each one of you listening to do something similar it doesn’t have to be spam just giving back to your community that’s great and see without even intending it to happen that’s an unexpected investor.
Hoala: And also we got published in – maybe it was entrepreneur you know like it got picked it up as hey here is this pretty cool clever marketing this community service event where you’re giving away spam that’s an unusual food in SF so we get some press out of it as well so that was a nice silver lining. And not to like be on a soap box or anything but you know fearlessness in outside the barrier I’d say the reputation in San Francisco for start ups is mostly take take take you know rising and all this excess behaviour and I just thought hey we don’t have to do that we can be difference so it’s a little unusual I’d say for this part of the country.
Meghan: But It works not only because it’s a great thing to do and — leadership is awesome it only works because there’s something called blue ocean strategy to where – that in a red ocean you have cut through competitors and they’re all kinda doing things the same way but then the blue ocean strategy is you set yourself apart and you look at what they’re doing and you kinda do the opposite in several different ways and it’s definitely made you guys ..
Hoala: It’s cool I have to go look that up and learn about it never heard of that. Alright that’s cool.
Meghan: I hope to see you again soon and where can listeners connect with you? How can they find out more about Paubox? How can they get in touch with you?
Hoala: Yea sure I’m on twitter Hoala Greevy. Our website is easy to find paubox.com or you can just type — email you will see it at the top. That was a lot of work and it ongoing work.
Meghan: And guys if you’re searching if you do – email do him a favour and just click of that link too.
Hoala: That’s correct! Well yea thanks Meghan for the plug man. That’s great.
Meghan: You’re welcome well I will talk to you later aloha! Until we see each other again Imua!
Meghan: Well thanks for listening guys I hope you got a lot out of that. That was really fun interview again I challenge you do something in your community let’s make this fun I want you to go to the website and find this post so this will be episode 44 and after you’ve done your challenge leave your comment in the comment box telling me what it was and how when just how fun it was because I know it’s gonna be fun so I will catch you guys later so until then, Imua!
Mahalo for joining us. If you’re new to riding the waves of medical device product development, or if you’ve been in development for a while already, Inspired by Imua is here to surf with you. Want to be a master of the waves? Text hang ten that’s all one word HANGTEN to 44222. We’ll send you the most common wipe outs companies make in product development so you can avoid them and reach master wave status. Again, that’s HANGTEN to 44222. We publish a new episode every Tuesday, so catch us at Inspiredbyimua.com. Imua!